We have elections for the position of London Mayor in May, plus elections for the London Assembly. In addition there are a few bye-elections in the local boroughs although the main elections for those are not until 2022 so you won’t be able to get rid of those councillors who support the LTNs until then. The main candidates for Mayor and their parties are as follows (in alphabetic order):
BAILEY Shaun, Conservative Party Candidate
BALAYEV Kam, Renew
BERRY Sian, Green Party
BROWN Valerie, The Burning Pink Party
CORBYN Piers, Let London Live
FOX Laurence, The Reclaim Party
GAMMONS Peter, UKIP
HEWISON Richard, Rejoin
HUDSON Vanessa, Animal Welfare Party
KELLEHER Steve, Social Democratic Party
KHAN Sadiq, Labour Party
KURTEN David, Heritage Party
LONDON Farah, Independent
OBUNGE Nims, Independent
PORRITT Luisa, Liberal Democrats
REID Mandu, Vote Women’s Equality Party
ROSE Brian, London Real Party
Sadiq Khan is well ahead of Shaun Bailey in the opinion polls with other candidates not appearing to have much chance of winning at this point in time. The BBC has been saying that only candidates from the main parties have ever won the Mayoral election but they are forgetting that Ken Livingstone won the position after standing as an independent – he only later rejoined the Labour Party. You should also bear in mind that the Mayoral vote is a primary/secondary vote system. You get to chose two candidates and your secondary vote will be counted if your first choice does not get an overall majority. This means you can vote for “less popular” candidates as a first choice without detracting from backing the one you might expect to have a chance of winning.
I will cover the policies of the main candidates as published in their manifestos as regards transport issues only. I have omitted those candidates for which I could not find any details of their manifestos or policies related to transport.
Shaun Bailey – He aims for a transport network fit for a global city by restoring order to Transport for London’s finances so we protect the services Londoners rely on. To achieve this he plans to introduce corporate sponsorship on the tube, and retain the concessionary fares for the under 16s and over 60s. This will also enable him to scrap the proposed rise in Council tax arising from the Mayor’s precept. He will use revenues from the ULEZ to replace old buses with zero-emission buses. Cutting harmful emissions by 17%. And Shaun will provide an interest-free loan to every black cab driver so they can switch to electric cabs (he claims this is equivalent of taking one million diesel cars off London’s roads).
Shaun will set up a London Infrastructure Bank. This will be kept in public hands, attracting money from a mixture of private and public sources. The Bank will be used to fund long-term transport projects. Like repairs to Hammersmith Bridge and Crossrail 2.
He will also reverse the congestion charge hike, scrap the ULEZ extension and the proposed outer London road tax. He also says he will listen to Londoners and suspend every single unwanted LTN.
Kam Balayev – I was unable to find a detail manifesto but he says he will “Revise the congestion charge and freeze fares on TfL” (the latter is of course one reason why Khan’s policies have resulted in TfL’s financial difficulties).
Sian Berry – She would “Reduce traffic and cancel the Silvertown Road Tunnel, investing instead in healthy streets, walking, cycling, better buses and new public transport links”. She would expand the ULEZ scheme to cover the whole of London and also introduce a road pricing plan. She will cancel road projects and introduce a workplace parking levy. Plus there will be more funding for Low Traffic Neighbourhoods. Clearly a candidate not likely to be popular with our readers!
Valerie Brown – She would scrap the position of Mayor and replace it with “citizen assemblies”, i.e. the undemocratic system of selecting people in a way other than by a simple vote. Not a candidate to be seriously considered I suggest.
Piers Corbyn – He recently sent me this email: “I am a candidate for Mayor of London and as you may have noticed I am totally opposed to ULEZ extension. I also agree with all (or almost all as far as I can see) your other policies. If Mayor – and this is truly possible, we are finding massive support – I would also review the existing ULEZ for which I cannot see justification. An important issue is extra journey lengths of people from outside zones for avoidance. This increases pollution. I’ve read your superb document on ULEZ extension”. He certainly seems to be a candidate worth considering therefore.
Laurence Fox – He plans to “GET LONDON MOVING”. He proposes free tubes and buses for six months (but the cost and how he might pay for that is unclear) and to scrap all Low Traffic Neighbourhoods and unnecessary cycle lanes. He proposes to scrap “lock-downs” and would put up statues to London’s heroes and heroines – not tear them down. Clearly a “populist” candidate, but has he got any experience of managing a large organisation?
Peter Gammons – He says: “I want to get London moving again. There are over 2 million miles of unused tunnels, streets, and chambers beneath London. This abandoned network was secretly built by the Ministry of Defence, Post Office, and BT”.
He also says: “As mayor, I will put a stop to Khan’s war on motorists. I am passionate about supporting London’s taxi drivers and will launch a full review into reopening roads which Khan has closed. Park Lane is one such road that needs urgent review. I’m tired of hypocrites like Sadiq Khan trying to make everybody walk or cycle whilst he swans around London in a £300,000 five litre Range Rover. Whereas Khan is tearing up trees to build new bicycle lanes, I am proposing a new tree-planting initiative. This is a strategy supported by ecologists for combating CO2 emission. I want to convert these disused spaces into walkways, safe cycle lanes, and create the world’s first underground ‘Pod’ transport system. This ambitious project will speed up the city and clear up London’s congestion – an issue that consecutive Conservative and Labour administrations have failed to solve”. Certainly some interesting ideas from this candidate.
Richard Hewison – Campaigning on a platform to rejoin the EU over which the Mayor has no say so surely a vote for him would be wasted.
Vanessa Hudson – She is primarily a single-issue candidate focussed on animal welfare but she does say that she would: “Incentivise public transport use, demand increased funding from Government to ensure affordability, reliability & safety – improving air quality”.
Steve Kelleher – He would introduce free public transport for people in the three years running up to their 25th birthday to help start new businesses and the search for work. He will introduce a ‘London Citizen Card’ for those who have lived in the capital for five years consecutively – entitling them to benefits such as occasional free tube travel. Other policies are not clear, perhaps because he seems to have changed party recently.
Sadiq Khan – His main points are: “Continuing to invest in public transport to ensure it is safe, affordable and reliable, keeping fares as low as possible, working to put TfL on a sound, sustainable financial footing after the pandemic, and supporting a revolution in walking and cycling”.
His manifesto of over 100 pages is mainly a celebration of his alleged achievements in the role of Mayor and you can expect more of the same no doubt. But this writer has frequently criticised his management of the finances of TfL and I am opposed to the ULEZ scheme, particularly the extension to the North/South Circular which he clearly intends to proceed with. The Mayor’s Transport strategy as previously adopted has resulted in an enormous waste of money and a degradation of the transport network in London (see https://www.freedomfordrivers.org/against-mts.htm for more information).
On LTNs, he has this to say: “Last year, TfL and the London boroughs rapidly rolled out measures to make our streets safer for walking, cycling, and social distancing, such as low-traffic neighbourhoods. Most of these schemes are temporary and implemented under emergency Government guidance. I will work with London boroughs to ensure communities and stakeholder groups are properly consulted on these schemes, refining them where necessary, and making them permanent where they are successful”.
He also says “Building on the introduction of the 24/7 bus lanes trial last year, I will undertake a programme of bus priority schemes, improving reliability of the bus network across the city”. So clearly he plans for more bus lanes.
He will push forward with the Healthy Streets agenda with more funding for cycle lanes, cycle parking and the Santander scheme. He will continue to support the innovative use of timed changes to streets across the capital through ‘School Streets’, ‘Summer Streeteries’ and ‘Lunchtime Streets’ — supporting the return of the hospitality sector. Play Streets in residential areas will be important in helping tackle isolation, improving mental health in our communities. He will explore options for future car-free days in central London.
On road safety he will continue with his Vision Zero Plan despite the fact that it has failed to have a significant impact on the loss of life and injuries. He will accelerate the roll out of 20mph speed limits on the TfL road network and improve the safety of the most dangerous junctions, including a programme of new pedestrian crossings at those junctions currently lacking them.
His solution to the problem of TfL’s finances is to introduce an outer London tax for those who drive into London from outside (which they won’t get a vote on of course), to ask the Government for more money and to have Vehicle Excise Duty given to him.
David Kurten – He wants to Get London Moving. Policies include: “Remove pop-up cycle lanes and road blockages. No more LTNs. Stop ULEZ and Congestion Charge expansion”. He also says: “UNBLOCK OUR ROADS. Remove Khan’s pop-up cycle lanes and traffic barriers. No more cycle superhighways on trunk routes. End road blockages between neighbourhoods. Unblock the Embankment. Build the Silvertown tunnel” and “END THE WAR ON MOTORISTS. Scrap evening and weekend congestion charging. No ULEZ or congestion charge expansion. No LEZ charge increases. No pay-as-you-go road pricing”.
He would also scrap HS2 but complete Crossrail. He is a founder member of the Heritage Party that believes in “free speech and liberty, traditional family values, national sovereignty, and financial responsibility”.
Farah London – She will introduce 100 days of free travel across London “as an important first step to reinvigorate the city’s economy as the COVID pandemic retreats”. She would “reverse the road restrictions and remove LTNs, plus bring back high street parking. She has been actively campaigning against LTNs in some of the boroughs.
She would abolish time travel restrictions for Freedom Pass Holders and introduce a QR code plate on all bicycles to identify riders and cycle owners for control of traffic offences plus make helmets with a QR code mandatory. In effect she has a number of interesting ideas. It’s worth reading her manifesto as she is one of the more credible independent candidates.
Luisa Porritt – She would introduce road pricing and scrap the Silvertown Tunnel. But I am not sure how much she knows about it as she alleged recently that it will be a motorway which is surely not true. The recent closure of the Blackwall Tunnel due to a car fire which brought gridlock to a wide area of London demonstrated the need for additional Thames crossings.
She says: “Drivers would be charged based on much they drive, how much pollution they create – with fair exemptions and discounts for special needs and work use. This will clean up our air and raise funds for our public transport network in a fairer way than the congestion charge”.
Brian Rose – He would scrap the Congestion Charge and his manifesto says this: “Ensure that Transport For London (TfL) is managed in a fiscally responsible manner by avoiding further government bailouts due to historic poor financial management; Build a transportation system of the future that promises to lead the world in technology, customer experience, and environmental friendly practices to deliver a world-class transportation service to all citizens. This will be accomplished by leveraging the innovation, expertise, and accountability of the private sector with the long- term planning that only the public sector can provide; Freeze fare increases for children, vulnerable groups, the elderly and disabled; Remove the physical friction that prohibits unimpeded movement in the capital by abolishing all restricted access for taxis to major carriageways, removing pedestrian social distancing barricades and rethinking empty cycle lanes by proposing mixed use zones to allow the traffic flow of both cars and cycles”.
Comment: he might have wider appeal if he does not appear in photographs wearing a pin-striped suit.
Conclusion: How to select the right candidate(s) to choose for tactical voting? I would suggest the following approach:
Ignore the race, gender or party of the candidates – just focus on their policies and their past track records and experience. The Mayor of London has a massive budget so preferably the chosen candidate should have both political and business experience. Otherwise simply look at their manifestos and decide whether you can trust them to implement the policies you like.
As regards the London Assembly elections, there seem to be few details available on individual manifestos but presumably they will follow their party’s policies as declared for the Mayoral role. More details may be available nearer the date of the elections (the 6th of May). But bear in mind that regrettably the London Assembly has minimal power to control the Mayor who acts as a dictator.
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